The TSA is finally updating its decades-old security systems. On Thursday, it began testing a computed tomography (CT) scanner on carry-on luggage in Phoenix.
Thanks to the CT scanner, passengers can now leave their technology and liquids in their bags when passing through airport security, meaning lines would speed up by up to 50 percent.
In addition to making everyone feel like they have TSA PreCheck, the CT scans improve detection by showing 3D images of the contents in a carry-on. The images can be rotated and inspected without opening the bag and are more detailed than the ones TSA’s current X-ray scanners provide.
A second machine will be tested in Boston later this month. In March, the DHS announced a ban on laptops and tablets on flights from airports in 10 North African and Middle Eastern countries after reports of terrorists developing bombs disguised as laptop batteries. The DHS considered extending the ban to Europe but later decided against it.
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CT scans are already being used for checked baggage, but they aren’t used for carry-ons because of the machine’s cost and large size, according to the Associated Press. But the TSA hopes that newer, smaller machines, like the one in Phoenix, will improve detection of contraband while speeding up security lines. Though they’re smaller, they’re just as effective.
And it’s about time, too. X-ray technology has been used for over a decade, and it’s not even effective. A 2015 internal review found that TSA officers weren’t able to find 95 percent of the fake weapons that undercover investigators snuck through security (yikes).
These new machines can measure the density of items, which helps security better detect which items could be explosives. If the tests are successful, TSA may also loosen restrictions on liquids—you’d finally be able to carry more than the 3.4 ounce limit on liquids and gels.
Hopefully this works out, because we’re tired of the agony of waiting in long lines.
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